In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Beyond Earth, I managed to lose another Explorer to the dangers of Terra Atlantea. It wasn’t even intentional malice on my side this time, either! All the aliens I’d encountered so far, the Wolf Beetles and the Manticores, were nothing but friendly to me. But apparently, the giant wasp-like Drones play by a different set of rules.
So, on the upside: I learned a new thing about Terra Atlantea. Don’t mess with Drones. The scientist in me appreciates learning this lesson in what is probably the least damaging way possible. But simultaneously, on the downside, I’m blind again. At this rate, I’ll still be confined to my tiny patch of starting land at the 500-turn mark.
Alright, okay. My Explorer died, that happened. But no sense in crying over spilt milk, as they say. Let’s forget about the negativity of the past, and focus on the glorious possibilities of the future.
For instance: my Explorer may have died — not focusing on it! — but only one turn after that selfsame event, Le Coeur finished its construction of my new Trade Vessel!
I know Beyond Earth has a Trade Route system. I know this, not because ADVISR or the in-game help has told me, but because I keep seeing the screen for it pop up: Trade Route Overview is bound to F10, which just happens to be my auto-screenshot toggle button. So, every time I toggle the screenshot stream on or off, that enigmatic screen is there. Watching. Waiting.
I’ve never seen this screen in use before. How could I, only four episodes in? But that changes now.
I select the Trade Vessel. A small cutout with unit options appears at the bottom left of the screen, as I knew it would: this is the same screen that allowed me to start Expeditions and to found the city of Prospérité. And, sure enough, there it is: ‘Establish Trade Route’. I click it, and…
Hmm. That’s odd. This list is… I’m provided what seems to be a list potential trading route partners, sorted by type: my cities, my outposts, other cities, and stations. But this list very much appears to be empty.
No, hold on, wait a minute. That can’t be right. Why can’t I trade with my own outpost? I know the Trade Vessel is a boat, so the direct land connection wouldn’t work, but both Le Coeur and Prospérité are on the coast. This should totally be possible! And while I understand, again, that this boat can’t trade with nearby Shackleton, the very first Station introduced however-many-turns-ago was the coastal Station of Far Base One.
See! It’s right there! It’s right there, on the coast, waiting for one of my cities to trade two Energy and two Science with it.
Maybe… maybe I can’t trade with Far Base One because I can’t actually see it? I don’t actually have vision on the Station’s tile and surroundings. Maybe I should try sending a unit over that-a-way, see if I can establish a trade route once I’ve gotten up-close and personal.
Which means that Le Coeur’s next production is going to have to be…
No, wait, hold on. I’ve danced this dance before. If I keep producing doomed Explorers, my city’s never going get anywhere. I do really want to check out Far Base One, but first… let’s use three turns to build the Culture-boosting Old Earth Relic. Remember: us Franco-Iberians love Culture. And maybe, just maybe, the surge of patriotism that comes from a newly-unveiled piece of old Earth will make my people more willing to overlook at signing up for the Explorer’s Corps has so far carried a 100% death rate.
Sleep for now, little Trade Vessel. I’ll revisit you when the time for commerce comes.
I end my turn.
“Congratulations!” Beyond Earth chimes. “You have discovered Far Base One! This Station will provide Energy and Science to the first city…”
…What just happened? Did I… just experience a glitch in the Matrix? But wait, no, this wasn’t just Beyond Earth repeating itself: Far Base One is located halfway between my Le Coeur and Hutama’s Freeland, but the game camera just flashed all the way over to Rejinaldo’s turf. Did a second Far Base One just spawn into existence?
All these mysteries, and me without any Explorers to go check them out. My life, she is unmitigated misery.
On a less nonsensical note, I’ve finally finished my research into Engineering! While I don’t have much use for the core function of this study — revealing Titanium deposits on the map — I’m sure I’ll get much use out of the Energy-boosting Thorium Reactor and the Production-enhancing Repair Facility. Not to mention the Combat Rover military unit, only my third soldier type to unlock so far.
Y’know what… I’ve been sticking to relatively ‘safe’ research topics so far, picking only the one-digit studies close to the center of the web. Made sense at the time, given that I didn’t really know what I was doing. But looking over the options… For a small investment of 35 turns of research, I can study the highly appealing Robotics field. Apart from the fact that my Science advisor actually recommends doing this, I can identify three personal reasons why this looks like a Good Idea: One, studying Robotics would grant me access to the Tacjet, a fighter jet of some description. Two, it would allow me to improve and capitalize on sources of Firaxite, the orange superconducting mineral that’s apparently quite important for Supremacy players. And three, the leaf just below the Robotics topic, Tactical Robotics, holds a Supremacy point. And a Supremacy-specific unique unit!
Oh, and look at that: another station has sprung up nearby. ‘Fort Barca’. At least that one fits the Franco-Iberian theme qua naming, I suppose.
I briefly recuse myself at this point to check out game scores. The Diplomacy screen, which I’ve used in the past to initiate contact with the other colony leaders, also holds a summary overview of each player’s point total. Points are determined by such things as number of cities, total population, technological progress, virtues, and wonders. And while they’re not at all necessarily indicative of who’s closer to winning, I still like looking at a visual confirmation that I’m doing something right.
My ego’s only partially in luck this time. At 92 points, I’m a respectable second. Only Rejinaldo, second to the planet, has managed to beat my score for now. He’s only in a small lead, though: nothing to be unduly worried about.
Hey, look at that! Prospérité has finally finished its lap around… itself, I guess, claiming all seven adjacent hexes. For its reward, it unceremoniously evolves: Outpost-Prospérité is now… City-Prospérité.
Like Le Coeur before it, Prospérité starts life as a tiny 1-Population baby city. And like Le Coeur before it, my first priority in Prospérité is to upgrade its Production production. And much like Le Coeur, starting Prospérité off with a Trade Depot seems like the most logical choice: on the heels of my previous quest decision, Trade Depots now provide +2 Production. As well as giving Prospérité access to Trade Routes and Trade Vessels as well. Maybe lack of a Trade Depot was the reason I couldn’t trade here?…
I don’t actually order the construction of a Trade Depot yet, however. Since Prospérité is located close to a bunch of desert-type tiles, I feel the Food bonus from a Vivarium might be more beneficial, short-term. Trading can come later, after the city’s rapidly expanded.
Unlike Le Coeur, however, Prospérité doesn’t have to go it entirely alone. Le Coeur’s solitary worker is all done improving the basic resources around its host city, in fact. So, rather than improving a bunch of basic tiles for a city that doesn’t nearly have the population count to work them all anyway, I decide to migrate the Worker to Prospérité. It can do a lot of good improving basic tiles there.
I’m a little worried about sending the Worker on its way alone, in light of recent events. But on the other hand, Explorer Two was killed by giant alien wasps. The bulk of the alien population here is made up by Wolf Beetles, and those guys haven’t hurt a fly since I made planetfall. I feel perfectly comfortable parking my Worker right next to a whole group of them.
I end my turn, and the Wolf Beetles swarm over my Worker, killing it instantly.
Goddamn hell, aliens!
I almost decide to categorically exterminate all aliens, there and then. Only my own sense of proportion, and continued admonishments of respect for my alien-sparing ways — both ARC’s Susanne and the Protectorate’s Kavitha have added their voices to the Aliens-B-Cool choir — arrest my rage. Alright, alright, I’m calm. This sort of thing happens. Workers are non-combat units, after all: maybe the Wolf Beetles weren’t so much aggressive as they are opportunistic. I’ll just make sure to escort any future Workers with military units instead.
“Hey, Bob, what are you up to? Joining the Explorer’s Corps?” “Nah, man, are you mad? Have you seen their death rate? No dude, I’m joining the Worker’s Union instead! Building farms and enclosures right outside the city, that’s the life. What could possibly go wrong?”
Time for another round of catch-up, then. Luckily, Le Coeur has just finished both the Old Earth Relic and the Explorer unit I queued up right after it. I sigh, once, and set it to produce a new Worker. Another four turns down the drain. I send the Explorer to check up on Far Base One-Point-One, hoping against hope that it hasn’t been… I don’t know, devoured by some kind of horrible sea dragon or something.
A few turns pass in transit. I’m hit with two short quests close together, both related to new buildings I’ve built. In Le Coeur’s Vivarium, one zealous researcher has been studying alien-Earth plant hybrids. Her colleagues disapprove. I can either continue her line of research, granting Vivarium buildings a bonus to science, or whoops I didn’t even read the alternative quest option.
Meanwhile, the recently unveiled Old Earth Relic has split people on its function. Should it be a museum piece, kept in perfect stasis, an eternal and Energy-maintenance-free reminder of our past? Or should it be studied, allowing people to learn and adapt their own culture from it and doubling the building’s Culture output? Again, this is not a difficult choice: the Old Earth Relic was built to provide Culture, so why wouldn’t I want to double its effectiveness? Besides, grieving over lost old Earth isn’t going to do us any good. No more than, say, grieving over the Explorers and Workers sent to their untimely deaths by a cruel colony administrator with a shocking lack of foresight. Eyes to the future, and all that.
And to top it all off, I unlock a new Virtue! I don’t fully understand what the Social Mores Virtue does: its text claims ‘each City tile generated +0.25 Culture for every Population’, but adopting it increases my Culture gain from three to four. With Le Coeur’s six population and Prospérité’s one, I honestly don’t understand how this is supposed to play out. Maybe… maybe Culture always rounds down to the nearest integer? That would mean we’re now producing 4.75 Culture per turn.
…No, wait, Le Coeur just went up to 7 Population and it’s still four Culture per turn. Welp, colour me confused.
Le Coeur’s replacement Worker is finished. Not wanting to risk anything, I send the Soldiers from Prospérité down south-east, to meet the Worker halfway. I don’t see any Wolf Beetles around at the start, but I’m not willing to take anymore senseless risks…
…which is good, because no sooner have the Soldiers and the Worker met up than the Beetles come spilling out of the woodwork.
Luckily, my predictions seem to hold: the Wolf Beetles don’t seem to be interested in attacking a target that can fight back. And while military units are restricted to one soldier per hex, my Soldiers are totally allowed to share their space with up to one civilian unit! As a group, the Soldiers and the Worker make it back to Prospérité — through the miasma clouds — where the Worker starts building a farm, while the Soldiers stand guard.
As for Le Coeur: I just built an Explorer, and then a Worker. I figure I might as well go for the non-combat trifecta and build another Colonist. I really want to get my hands on those strategic resources to the east.
As the Soldier-Worker meetup is underway, I send my Explorer to check up on Far Base One-Point-One. Everything looks alright enough from a distance…
…but as the Explorer gets into direct sight range, I’m confronted with the harsh, halfway-expected-but-still-strange truth: the base is totally gone.
I… I don’t understand. How did this happen? Moreover, how did this happen? From the looks of it, Far Base One just packed up its stuff and… left? Relocated? To another side of the planet? Is that a thing that Stations can do? And if so, what deals do I have to make to get myself some of that technology?
Well, er… whatever. I thought there’d be a cool thing here, and there wasn’t. No point wasting valuable time gawking at magically disappearing Stations.
I could send my Explorer farther east, see I can meet up with Hutama’s territory. But instead, I decide to have it resume the doomed Explorer Two’s journey. Not in exactly the same way, of course: traveling south by way of boat, Explorer Three handily avoids the Wasp Nest O’ Death that infests the land bridge. But not far south from where wasps lie, the land expands again, into a small circular island section jam-packed with resources.
I mean, wow. I see… alien fruit, silica, titanium, fungus, petroleum, geothermal energy… and unless I’m mistaken, that looks like a second puddle of Xenomass over near those gaping chasms. And Explorer Three appears to be standing on a third puddle! This looks like an interesting place to set up an Outpost or two. And as if that wasn’t enough, I find not one but two intact Resource Pods. And another derelict satellite expedition spot.
And a whole bunch of aliens. Ho hum.
My first instinct is to dig up the Expedition, looming attractively as it does. But when Wolf Beetles run up right next to me, fear gets temporarily gets the best of me, and I evade to the right Resource Pod instead. That Pod only holds a smattering of Energy, however: the 50 I’m getting here is only a handful compared to the seven-hundred Energy I already…
It’s only at this point I glance upwards, to look at my Energy totals, and notice that my Health has dipped into negative five.
What happened? Prospérité happened, that’s what: I receive Health penalties both from the number of cities and my total Population number. Prospérité turning an actual city, and Le Coeur steadily expanding as it has from the many sources of Tubers and Chitin nearby, has gradually pushed my Health more and more down. My colonists are now officially Unhealthy. And while positive Health had a beneficial effect on Outpost growth speed, this low negative Health is immediately weighing down on my Culture and Science gain. Cripes. Mark ‘improving Health’ down as item number one for the ‘deal with this as soon as possible’ list.
For instance, given that the number of cities is apparently a serious Health influence, you know what would be a really good idea right now? Founding another city!
Okay, okay. Fixing my shitty Health is number two on my to-deal-with list. I’ll get to it after I conquer more of this world’s landmass. I promise.